Can Spitting on Someone’s Food Lead to Charges of Battery in California? (California Penal Code Section 242)
In an unusual case out of Albuquerque, N.M., a fast food worker was charged with battery after authorities said she secretly licked sandwiches and served them to probation and parole officers.
In a criminal complaint, witnesses stated they saw Yolanda Arguello lick slices of cheese before putting them on sandwiches that were served to the officers. Arguello is also accused of sucking ice cubes before spitting them back into beverages. Arguello is facing three counts of battery on a peace officer as a result of her actions.1
What is Battery in California? (California Penal Code Section 242)
In the state of California, spitting on another person, someone’s food, or similar acts such as the ones committed by Arguello could lead to battery charges. Under California Penal Code Section 242, battery is defined as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another person. Any use of force that results in actual physical contact with another person can lead to a battery charge.
Most people think of a violent fight between two people involving punching and kicking when they think of battery. However, you could be charged with battery if you touched a person in a harmful or offensive manner. Harmful or offensive touching is any physical contact that is considered violent, rude, angry or disrespectful. The physical contact can be done through indirect means, such as through another person’s clothing or indirectly with an object.
You could be charged with battery if you pushed someone, threw a rock that hit another person or spit on another person or the other person’s food. Battery does not always have to cause serious bodily injury.2
What is the Punishment for a Battery Conviction?
Under California Penal Code Section 242, battery is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $2,000 fine.
If the victim was a peace officer and you knew or reasonably should have known that the victim was a peace officer (e.g. a police officer, firefighter, EMT, etc.), your county jail sentence can double to one year under California Penal Code Section 243(b).
If the peace officer suffered serious bodily injury, battery can be charged as a felony. Felony battery is punishable by two, three or four years in state prison under California Penal Code Section 243(c)(2).
Food Tampering (California Health and Safety Code Section 347)
If you spit in another person’s food and that person contracts an illness (like Hepatitis C) as a result of your actions, you could face charges of food tampering under California Health and Safety Code Section 347. Under Health and Safety Code Section 347, it is illegal to willfully mingle any poison or harmful substance with any food, drink, medicine or pharmaceutical product where you knew or should have known that doing so would result in injury to the other person.
Food tampering under Health and Safety Code Section 347 is a felony punishable by two, four, or five years in state prison. If great bodily injury was inflicted on the victim, you face an additional sentence of up to three years in state prison.
Call the Battery Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one is facing battery charges, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 40 years of experience successfully defending persons accused of battery and other serious criminal acts. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our criminal defense attorneys are available near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [Complaint: N.M. cook licked sandwiches, served officers, June 2, 2014, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/complaint-new-mexico-cook-licked-sandwiches-served-officers/]↩
2. [A Guide to California Assault and Battery Laws, http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/a-guide-to-california-assault-and-battery-laws]↩